South Africa football captain Senzo Meyiwa shot dead

Goalkeeper shot in the chest while trying to protect his girlfriend during township robbery

Senzo Meyiwa
(Image credit: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty )

Senzo Meyiwa the captain of the South African football team was shot dead in a "botched robbery" in Vosloorus township, near Johannesburg on Sunday.

The 27-year-old goalkeeper was killed when two armed men broke into his girlfriend's house and demanded phones and other valuables. He was "trying to protect his girlfriend" when he was shot, reports the Daily Telegraph. It says he was killed by "a single shot through the chest".

Meyiwa had captained the South African team, nicknamed Bafana Bafana, in their recent African Nations Cup qualifiers and had not conceded a goal in four international matches. He was killed 24-hours after helping his club side to a 4-1 win over Ajax Cape Town.

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South African police have offered a reward of R150,000 (£8,500) to catch the killers.

Tributes from team-mates and fans have been flooding in, and next week's local derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaiser Chiefs has already been postponed.

South African President Jacob Zuma released a statement on Monday, which said: "We mourn the death of this young footballer and team leader whose life has been taken away at the prime of his career. Words cannot express the nation's shock at this loss."

National coach Ephraim Mashaba wept at a press conference as he paid tribute to Meyiwa, and others took to Twitter to express sadness and anger.

Everyone saying RIP & condolences as they did with other stars & personalities & moved on. Stop these damn guns South Africa, stop them!!! — O. Erick Mwanza (@CAF_Mwanza) October 26, 2014

His death serves to highlight South Africa's problems with violence, says Milton Nkosi of the BBC. "His shooting brings into sharp focus the wider issues of gun crime in South Africa, particularly so soon after the marathon trial of athlete Oscar Pistorius."

The shooting comes seven years after the murder of a well-known reggae singer Lucky Dube. "South Africa is asking itself deep questions about the cancer of violence that has killed some of its best talent," says Nkosi. "Why is it that here in South Africa violence is so gratuitous?"

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